DATE: November 17, 2000

TO: Planning Commission

FROM: Gary Gillette, Planner
Community Development Department

FILE NO.: VAR2000-00043

PROPOSAL: A variance to reduce both side yard setbacks from 10' to 8' for the construction of a back-up generator building for the Valley Court Wastewater Lift Station.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Applicant: CBJ Engineering

Property Owner: CBJ

Property Address: 5501 Glacier Highway Juneau, Alaska 99801

Legal Description: Fraction Lot 2, USS 204

Parcel Code Number: 5-B12-0-106-001-0

Site Size: 5,732 Square Feet

Zoning: I, Industrial

Utilities: CBJ Water & Sewer

Access: Glacier Highway

Existing Land Use: Utility Corridor

Surrounding Land Use: North – Glacier Highway

South – Telephone Utility

East - Commercial

West - Telephone Utility

 

 

 

 

Planning Commission
File: VAR2000-00043
November 17, 2000
Page 2 of 5

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The proposed project is to construct a new generator building that provides back-up power to a sewage pump station facility. The project as designed would not meet the required side yard setbacks of the CBJ Land Use Ordinance. Thus the applicant has applied for a variance to this setback requirement.

BACKGROUND

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT/PF) is planning a significant upgrade to the roadway at the Anka Street and Glacier Highway intersection (entrance to Costco area). The City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ) Public Works has a major utility facility in this area that must be relocated to accommodate the planned road improvements. As a result CBJ will be upgrading an existing sewage pump station and constructing a new generator building. The building houses a generator which powers a sewage pump station in the event of a power outage.

The building is about 13 feet wide and sits in the center of the parcel. The parcel is 30 feet wide thus each side yard is approximately 8 feet. The applicant requests that both side yard setbacks be reduced to 8 feet.

ANALYSIS

Variance Requirements

Under CBJ'49.20.250 where hardship and practical difficulties result from an extraordinary situation or unique physical feature affecting only a specific parcel of property or structures lawfully existing thereon and render it difficult to carry out the provisions of Title 49, the Board of Adjustment may grant a variance in harmony with the general purpose and intent of Title 49. A variance may vary any requirement or regulation of Title 49 concerning dimensional and other design standards, but not those concerning the use of land or structures, housing density, lot coverage, or those establishing construction standards. A variance may be granted after the prescribed hearing and after the Board of Adjustment has determined:

  • 1. That the relaxation applied for or a lesser relaxation specified by the Board of Adjustment would give substantial relief to the owner of the property involved and be more consistent with justice to other property owners.

    The site of the proposed generator building is a remnant parcel that is owned by CBJ primarily for the purpose of providing a utility corridor. Currently there exists a generator

  • Planning Commission
    File: VAR2000-00043
    November 17, 2000
    Page 3 of 5

  • building that will be demolished as a part of upgrading the roadway in the area. The size of the generator building is governed in part by code requirements for open area around the equipment within it. There is no other location for the building that would provide greater setback to property lines. The relaxation applied for would give substantial relief to the owner of the property involved and be more consistent with justice to other property owners. Thus this criterion is met.

    2. That relief can be granted in such a fashion that the intent of this title will be observed and the public safety and welfare be preserved.

    The purpose of the project is to upgrade the existing sewage pump station and to improve traffic safety in the vicinity. Granting the variance would allow the project to proceed thereby improving public safety and welfare. Thus this criterion is met.

    3. That the authorization of the variance will not injure nearby property.

    The generator building is sited such that the maximum side yards obtainable are provided. No existing building on either adjacent parcel is located close to the proposed building. There has been no evidence presented that indicates the construction of the building to the setbacks desired by the applicant would injure nearby property. Thus this criterion is met.

    4. That the variance does not authorize uses not allowed in the district involved.

    The proposed utility is allowed in the industrial zoning district. The granting of the variance would not allow uses not allowed in the industrial zoning district. Thus this criterion is met.

    5. That compliance with the existing standards would:

  • (A) Unreasonably prevent the owner from using the property for a permissible principal use;
  • The existing utility is allowed in the industrial zoning district and has been at the site since about 1977. At that time no side yard setback was required so the building is legally nonconforming. Compliance with the existing standards would not unreasonably prevent the owner from using the property for a permissible principal use. Thus this sub-criterion is not met.

  • Planning Commission
    File: VAR2000-00043
    November 17, 2000
    Page 4 of 5

  • (B) Unreasonably prevent the owner from using the property in a manner which is consistent as to scale, amenities, appearance or features, with existing development in the neighborhood of the subject property;

    Neighboring development appears to meet the setbacks required by current codes. Thus this sub-criterion is not met.

    (C) Be unnecessarily burdensome because unique physical features of the property render compliance with the standards unreasonably expensive;

    The subject parcel is long and narrow. It was created as a utility corridor and

    developed about 1977. At the time no setback requirements existed. Since then the 10 foot side yard setback was enacted. In addition, electrical codes have changed such that more open area around equipment is required for maintenance personnel. If the variance is not granted the project would suffer serious consequences as the generator building could not be constructed at the site. Obtaining additional land or installing power lines from a remote generator site would be unreasonably expensive for the project. The physical feature of an unusually narrow parcel would appear to render compliance with the standards to be unreasonably expensive. Thus this sub-criterion is met.

  • or

  • (D) Because of pre-existing nonconforming conditions on the subject parcel the grant of the variance would not result in a net decrease in overall compliance with the Land Use Code, CBJ Title 49, or the Building Code, CBJ Title 19, or both.

    There are no pre-existing nonconforming conditions on the subject parcel thus this sub-criterion does not apply.

  • Criterion 5 is met because sub-criterion (c) is met.

  • 6. That a grant of the variance would result in more benefits than detriments to the neighborhood.

    There have been no detriments identified as a result of granting the requested variance. The benefits to the community are a greatly improved intersection at Anka Street and Glacier Highway and improved sewage treatment operations. Thus this criterion is met.

  • Planning Commission
    File: VAR2000-00043
    November 17, 2000
    Page 5 of 5

    JUNEAU COASTAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM

    A review of the JCMP revealed that no enforceable policies apply to this project.

    FINDINGS

    CBJ'49.20.240, Board of Adjustment Action, states that the Board of Adjustment shall hear all variance requests and shall either approve, conditionally approve, modify or deny the request based on the criteria in CBJ'49.20.250.

    Under CBJ'49.20.220, Scheduling and Fee, the director makes the following determination:

  • 1. Is the application for the requested variance complete?

    Yes. The application contains the information necessary to conduct a full review of the proposed operations. The application submittal by the applicant, including the appropriate fees, substantially conform to the requirements of CBJ code Chapters 49.15. Additionally, notice was provided in the Juneau Empire under Your Municipality which ran on (November 17, 2000). A public notice sign is not required for a variance application.

  • Under CBJ'49.70.900 (b)(3), General Provisions, the director makes the following Juneau Coastal Management Program consistency determination:

  • 2. Will the proposed development comply with the Juneau Coastal Management Program?

    Not Applicable. Based on a review of the enforceable policies of the JCMP, it is found that no provisions apply to the proposed development.

    1. Does the variance as requested, meet the criteria of Section 49.20.250 Grounds for Variances?
  • Yes. Based on the analysis as explained above the requested variance meets the grounds for variances of Section 49.20.250.
  • RECOMMENDATION

    It is recommended that the Board of Adjustment adopt the director's analysis and findings and grant the requested variance to allow the construction of a new back-up generator building for the Valley Court Wastewater Lift Station.